Saturday, April 4, 2015

Using Time in Aristotle to Compare Kant and Heidegger - Part IV

In the last part (Part III) I discussed Heidegger's use of 'temporality' in relation to Aristotle and Kant. Where Kant had provided a ground for Aristotle's experience of events, Heidegger provided a ground for Kant's orientation to the possibility of objects of experience. I will now bring us back to Aristotle's outlook to get another view on Heidegger and Kant.
When Aristotle is working out his Physics, he is asking some fundamental questions about inquiry into beings.  Kant has already assumed the existence of natural science as secure science. Aristotle is looking out at the possibilities that nature presents to him through the senses. One of these is that it can be understood, and he wants to come to terms with this understanding and the basic character of it in the Physics. Kant is not looking at the way the experience of nature provides us with possibility for understanding. (At least we can say this with regard to the Critique of Pure Reason. In the Critique of Judgment he sees this in aesthetic judgment.)
Kant is looking to the objects not in order to understand how they are presented such that they could be understood. Kant is looking at the objects understood in a particular way, and looking at the elements of such an understanding. This subtle different is important.  Aristotle recognizes that things presented to us can enter into various sorts of activity - not merely theoretical understanding, and Kant recognizes this too, but Kant's analysis in the Critique of Pure Reason takes objects in just the attitude of theoretical understanding.
Heidegger sees temporality in our coming towards our own possibilities (as well as other modes that I will leave out for now).  Heidegger can be seen as looking to Aristotle's attitude towards the particular possibility he was receptive to in the Physics: the possibility to understand nature.  With this in view, Heidegger looks at the area in which this is a possibility for us among other possibilities.  This bears some repetition and development.
Aristotle looked at his possibility for knowing nature, and characterized nature in its understandability.  Kant looked at the nature understood and developed the elements of this understood nature.  Heidegger looked at Aristotle's understanding of the understandability of nature and developed the elements of this kind of understanding. There is some violence to Heidegger in this last statement about him, but this is just a rough start to characterize briefly the relationship I see between Kant, Heidegger and Aristotle which needs to be developed further.  First, however, I would like to avoid a potential misunderstanding.
Heidegger saw Aristotle's understanding of understandability.  Why not see the understanding of the understandability of understandability, and so on forever?  Clearly, these two kinds of understanding are to be differentiated.  Aristotle sees the understandability of nature, which means he sees certain possibilities for understanding object.  Heidegger understands the understability that Aristotle saw, but since this understandability is not an object but a possibility, the understanding Heidegger develops is in the possibility of these attitudinal possibilities in relation to things, he also sees the possibility of not getting our primary direction from things, and the manner in which the very understandability of things can lure us into this orientation towards things.
Kant and Heidegger both took up different projects that relate to Aristotle's.  Kant took up the understanding of objects once the method of this understanding had become secure.  Heidegger took up the characterization of the possibility of understanding that Aristotle saw in objects.  The interpretations of Kant and Heidegger developed differently on the basis of this.

Some Remarks:

I do not mean that Heidegger and Kant were explicitly looking at Aristotle.  Though they were aware of him it isn't necessary that they took their direction from Aristotle explicitly.
I am not suggesting any kind of order of importance between these thinkers and their thinking out of time.  This would require separate justification.
There is something interesting here with relation to transcendental inquiry: Aristotle, Kant and Heidegger all have different basic directions, but they all look to the transcendental ground of these.  This is not to give priority to Kant; one could just as well see that each of these thinkers disclosed the phenomena they had in mind, and give priority to phenomenology.  This does let us see a relationship between transcendental philosophy and phenomenology:  transcendental philosophy doesn't mean taking the same topics for analysis that Kant did.
I see that Heidegger and Kant are both attacking a tendency that people fell into with regard to the success of Aristotle's project.  Kant shows that metaphysicians cannot use the model of understanding from nature in their own pursuits, and so need to turn away from characterizing them in terms of objects.  Heidegger also wants to see new opportunities in carrying out the question concerning the being of beings without taking direction from objects.  Kant and Heidegger both suggest alternative ways forward, but these alternatives are not contradictory.  The alternatives that come out of Kant and Heidegger still seem to have the characteristic difference of their original points of departure.

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